Its early: four o’clock. Too dark
for logic. The alphabet is scattered
across the floor
and the day’s arguments
have yet to begin, but the mind
is already sorting what matters
from what does not.
are connecting. A train
arrives from a long ago year;
a bird seen far from its range
becomes a portent of extinction;
Russia has returned to its iron
roots; all the teacups
in the kitchen fill
and every toy gun
kills in dreams. Soon, the televisions
will wake up and start to shout
but this is poetry’s time
to purr in a world of lions.
David Chorlton was born in Austria, grew up in Manchester, England, and lived for several years in Vienna before moving to Phoenix in 1978. Arizona’s landscapes and wildlife have become increasingly important to him and a significant part of his poetry. Meanwhile, he retains an appetite for reading Eugenio Montale, W. S. Merwin, Tomas Tranströmer and many other, often less celebrated, poets.
less school runs,
more rest in peaces,
more kids shot to pieces,
more sorry to hears,
more population decreasing.
Less cease firing,
more tears shed,
more body bags,
in makeshift mortuaries,
praying not paying In.
Because a madman thought he was being ignored?
‘Of course, our thoughts are with the families,
But what do you expect people?
equals more guns needed here,
We’ve reached the conclusion,
theres only one solution,
Teachers should be reaching for guns,
And teaching kids to do the same,
Great guns for our gun laws,
we don’t have enough we should have more,
He was Just another mad man with a gun.’
‘You politicians have got it wrong.
Officials singing the same old song,
Our nation is segregated, and divided
although the decision already been decided.
Teachers have shown pupils a hard lesson to learn,
come to school and you might not return.’
‘The voice of the people has spoken,
ban guns? You’re joking,
because some mad man wanted to settle scores,
thought he’d be ignored.
We need more. because,
just in case,
for the day might come,
that we need them.
I mean when.
Now you’ve metal detectors
to protect you,
from another mad man
scum should he come into your school someday’
‘Anyway, ban guns, way!
I’ve seen so many of my friends paying,
In our land of the free.
I don’t wanna go to my place of learning,
when I don’t know if I will be returning.’
‘They should have been protected,
yes, but it’s your teachers job is to protect them.
yet they didn’t give the shooter a taste of his own medicine!
The problems were because another madman didn’t understand,
and had nothing to do with what he had in his hand,
anyway, it should be in the curriculum,
that teachers and kids should carry a gun with them’
‘Tell that to the parents of the kids,
that where sitting,
at their desk just, a minute ago,
and now are lying on the floor,
Explain how when they were preparing for the school run,
when they packed their kids a snack pack.
they should have packed them a gun.’
‘It had everything to do with him,
and nothing to do with me.
He wasn’t right in the head you see,
He needed a check-up from the neck up,
he was protected by the second amendment.
but then so where you,
but you chose to not use it.
You could, you know,
you have no excuses.
Just put it down to experience
and next time you know what to do.’
The next time the madman with a gun is coming for you.
it’s not a time
of world adventure
today those who rule
want censure, restriction
white knuckled control
advertised under the
name of protection
protection from what?
who don’t think the same
as those whose wants of control
extend beyond their boundaries
no, it’s not a new ideology
it’s just dressed in new polyester uniforms instead of
the red buttons of destruction
the hands who hover above
are puffy, not calloused hands
that have never known
the angry knot of hunger
There is a man on line
who says they are a hardy people.
They are nomads, used to deserts.
They know how to survive,
that not everywhere is scarred by war.
He has been there, and he knows.
Everyone lives near the mountains,
can magic water from the sands.
Everyone can ride a camel, or a horse.
They are a hardy people, and they will learn.
Tell that to the kid standing wide eyed,
watching the murder missiles fall,
straight as heart seeking arrows,
shining, like nothing he’s ever seen before.
for Robert Wayne Williams
He tried to honor Gramsci’s prison notebooks.
But, ‘Toya required means. A comrade fighting
worldwide oppression married to a princess.
Thesbian Ché chortling for cameras, never
exposing flaws, never so beautiful as in
death, revealing tiny pimples—an otherwise
unworldly face. “Revolution” a meme, violent
insurrection modeled by Lenin, the oppressed
led by a nobleman defrocked, clothed by
tsunamis of Red Tides and by a red flag rough
as workers’ palms, labeled “amoral” by well-fed
republicans, stable hierarchies prevailing,
formed by guilds and nation-states avowing
private ownership. A husband whose theories might
have earned praise, competing with Jackson’s Lenin
Prize, but privileging private domains over service,
showing ingratitude to his Frankfurt School.
Habermas lies disappointed but in wait. It is neither
confirmed nor denied that the husband was once a
belligerent entity, acting on Marx’s behalf, armed
with munitions of scholarship, writing documents as
deputed as manifestos, not binding as signed treaties
but uncorrupted as Capital or Notebooks, extolling
revolution but not trained to shoot a gun. FARC
is the new Politburo, Cano the new Che, Chavez the
new Lincoln, Chavez the new Churchill, Chavez the
new Fanon, Mono Jojoy the new Sacha. Hermeneutics
of sustainable politics coerced by agrarian reformers
and anti-imperialists, avatars in entrepreneurial games
that Robert’s defection empowers. Don’t fall in love
with your work. ‘Toya might have said, Don’t fall
in love. Instead her husband succumbed to her ways,
a negress with genteel ambitions, philistine and
beautiful, whose petulance the husband made a
virtue. Still, he labors for a different social contract.
Clara B. Jones practices poetry in Silver Spring, MD (USA). She writes about identity, culture, & society and conducts research on experimental poetry, as well as, radical publishing. She is author of three chapbooks and one volume, and her poetry, reviews, essays, and interviews have appeared or are forthcoming in various venues.
when your conscience is laden with guilt
as most of our consciences must be
do we get active politically
do we revise our budgets wisely
do we look at the people and say, “hello
how are you today”? before we go
before we go on our merry way–
off to our errands–not thinking how
we can make amends
do we do this everyday as we take note
of all those who die by famine and draught
of all those who died by genocide
and all the blood needlessly spilt
o our consciences are burdened–no doubt
by skeletons not yet dead and children’s eyes
seeming to pop out of their head
pity all our consciences so burdened with guilt
I have changed
to drop him off.
I fill my nostrils
with the smell of
aftershave he’s started dabbing,
hair cream he’s started applying.
I fill my palms
with the girth
of his solid arm
as I squeeze him goodbye.
I fill my eyes
with his tall frame
becoming small towards the brick building.
And I press with my fingers into the hippocampus,
the color of his T-shirt,
the leather patch on his jeans,
and the logo on his tennis shoes.
I feel as if
I’m seeing off my son to war,
not another day at school.
Do not place in her lap−
the irredeemably stained book bag,
the unbitten golden crisp apple,
the sticky wads of molten Wrigley’s,
the half-written Renaissance essay,
the earmarked and penciled-in Odyssey,
the infinite Java loops screaming ‘Hello world! ’,
the unanalyzed data of Simple Harmonic Motion,
the patriotic tunes stuck inside the trumpet,
the Vainglory demanding the next move on the IPhone,
the plastic ID displaying the year of graduation
the deluge of thoughts and prayers of effect unseen.
Do not send to her contents of the locker−
She is a mother. That mother.
Sara Siddiqui Chansarkar is an Indian American. She was born in a middle-class family in India and will forever be indebted to her parents for educating her beyond their means. Her work has appeared in print and online. She is also Pushcart nominee for 2017.
after Wen Tianxiang (1236-1283)
I am incarcerated in the North Court in a mud cell.
I have time to think about how we are often overwhelmed
And rendered speechless by the sun and the stars.
By the rivers and mountains. By all of that.
I can see none of it out of my cell’s tiny window
But I remain steadfast in this solitude.
As Mencius said, “I try to maintain the nobility of my spirit.”
Righteousness takes many forms.
People call it by different names: honour and fearlessness
Are two of the names people call it by.
I care little for names or labels; it is the spirit that matters.
In times of tranquillity it is not tested.
In times of despair it is tested to its limits.
History is not carved into stone but you think it is.
I have shed blood when I had to.
Wrongdoing must always be denounced.
The benevolent tyrant has been endured
As have the tortures of the enemy.
We have repelled the barbarians coming across the river.
We have inadvertently made gods and ghosts weep.
We have tried to be purer than snow and ice.
What is permeated by the spirit of righteousness will be revered for ever.
To be righteous is majestic and without border.
It is to be one with everything,
To be the sun and the moon for all time.
Death and life are only words.
To be the Earth is to be sustained by this spirit.
To be the Heavens is to be supported by this spirit.
To be anything worthwhile is to be dependent upon this spirit.
There are nine types of bad luck
(I am unable to list them all here (lack of space)).
And any one of them may be stumbled upon unexpectedly –
But that’s no excuse not to do one’s best.
I wore a cheap beribboned hat and rags
When the carter delivered me, his sad cargo, to these northern wastes.
The cauldron in the kitchen contains the sweetest syrup
But it is not for me. We cannot always have what we want
Or find what we are looking for.
This dark room is silent with ghost fires.
Even a spring garden can be depressing under dark skies.
Twilight is melancholy.
The thoroughbred and the phoenix eat from the same trough
As the fowl and cattle. So do I.
The morning is muffled into silence by fog.
A healthy man senses the approach of illness.
Some say to avoid the heat,
Some counsel to avoid the cold.
Some say the world is full of what to avoid.
Some say sorrow and sadness are what you live.
My heart is sad but at peace. Nobility of spirit.
When I am dead I will be thrown into the ditch and forgotten.
It doesn’t matter. There can be no more trickery.
I will not listen when you tell me the blue sky has an end.
A wise man is necessarily distant
Because he belongs to the past.
If you read this please bear in mind
I didn’t go through everything for nothing.
Children who fight still have to learn
when they return from Daesh.
Crayons, drawings of tanks, flags and guns
on white paper, grab pink and brown and draw car bombs.
Yeah, give me, shouting. Polite voices of children,
playing nicely drawing purple, blue legs,
attached to the square torso, black hair and beards,
I don’t know – family or fighters, or what?
Psychotherapist Qassim show us, show us.
Shaking and jumping, outside,
when you get older, girls grow white dresses
and gold coins that bang on their headdresses,
In a playground cluster giggling, with care
they adjust the younger boy’s red and white scarf,
maybe saying, ‘he is so cute.’
Sitting in class, drawn in eyebrows,
eyes down at the paper, thinking and listening
to the teacher’s shouting, your green eyes see –
– what do they see? – what do I see?
Did the camera operator choose you
for the close up, smitten by those sea-eyes?
Artist & Broadcaster
Papa looks at his girl and says:
“You are a girl, you are delicate,
You are a flower and must be taken care of.”
So he sanctions her pruning:
Cut! Cut!! Cut!!!
Organic fluid drips in painful drops,
The joy of a backward-looking tradition.
On the floor she lays, counting stars at noon.
And then, at sunset,
The flower feels the sun retiring underneath her.
And the flower is abandoned;
Abandoned to take care of herself.
Marvel Chukwudi Pephel is a prolific Nigerian writer who writes poems, short stories and other things besides. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in Best New African Poets 2016 Anthology, Jellyfish Whispers, High Coupe, Praxis Magazine for Arts and Literature, The Avocet, Academy of the Heart and Mind, Pyrokinection, The Kalahari Review, African Writer, The Naked Convos, PIN Quarterly Journal, Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine, amongst others. He was shortlisted for the 2016 Quality Poets Competition. He is currently a two-time winner of the Creative Writing Ink Competition (Ireland).
I crouch, a darkness in the dark
……trees. The trees have claws like mine.
……They do not cut me; my deft feet, my
……hairs like sensors protect me.
I climb the dark trees in the blue light
……at dusk and before dawn. Most days
……I hunt by day, from the shadows,
……to eat, to live; not just to kill.
Most days the two-legs come quietly, just
……looking for green jay and yellow
……kiskadee. They never see me, I’m
……quick and quiet; but I see them.
But today they came many and loud.
……They tied red cloths to my trees. They
……dug holes in the ridge that holds
……the waters. I left early, to hunt.
Tonight, my trees are gone, dead on the
……ground. I know the two-legs killed them.
……Now a wall rises too high for
……me to scale. And I, too, am gone.
The elevator was out again,
so I couldn’t get downstairs in time
and the school bus never waits.
The bus driver hates picking up
homeless kids at the welfare hotel.
I tried to tell him the first day
that I really wanted to go to school
even though the teacher ignored me
and the nasty kids teased me
about my shabby clothes.
But anyplace is better
than staying in the cold room all day,
with Mom nodding out on the bed,
her boyfriend looking at me with hard eyes,
and the big rats moving around
like they pay rent.
Once a month the social worker comes
and asks all kinds of questions.
When I asked: ‘What I do to deserve this?’
all she said was: ‘Things’ll get better, someday.’
In the city of broken dreams,
on avenues of empty shops,
the gaping spaces do not beg
for customers to return,
departed employees, owners
subtracted from the economy
without hope of restoration,
victims of the loss of jobs, homes,
when their prosperity
submerged into poverty.
Winter winds blow across the park.
Employees, students, shoppers
decide to eat indoors.
The trash bins are empty.
The homeless have departed
in search of sustenance,
a never ending quest
to stave off hunger.
The outcasts of society
flock to city parks
in good weather,
desperate for tranquility
in a green enclave,
a brief oasis
before moving on
in the desert of cities.
Our remaining factories
are often run by robots,
as the lords of profit
always try to make
more and more
and increasingly explore
how to substitute
mechanicals for people,
the obvious goal
so pestiferous humans
can be replaced.
Officials of our city,
elected and appointed,
have no compassion
for homeless youth.
Thousands of youngsters daily
are subtracted from the future
already too poorly equipped
to compete for tomorrows.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars
are spent each day
to incarcerate innocent children
in welfare hotels, welfare motels,
drugs, violence, prostitution,
rampant in learning academies,
where the older
teach the younger
in the absence of
positive role models.
As poverty advances
in the war against well-being
and more and more Americans
are callously detached
from a nurturing system
we once called civilization,
abandonment is the threnody
discarding so many
without emergency efforts
to salvage the children.
And all the while
elected and appointed officials
have homes of comfort,
as the children of despair
nod out in school,
exhausted from turmoil nights
when unregulated chaos
ransacks the halls of horror
where children are confined.
Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director, and as an art dealer when he couldn’t make a living in theater. He has 12 published chapbooks and 2 accepted for publication. His poetry collections include: Days of Destruction (Skive Press), Expectations (Rogue Scholars Press). Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways, Displays, Perceptions, Fault Lines, Tremors and Perturbations (Winter Goose Publishing) Rude Awakenings and The Remission of Order will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. Conditioned Response (Nazar Look). Resonance(Dreaming Big Publications). Virtual Living (Thurston Howl Publications). Blossoms of Decay (Wordcatcher Publishing). Blunt Force and Expectations will be published by Wordcatcher Publishing. His novels include: Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press), Flawed Connections (Black Rose Writing), Call to Valor(Gnome on Pigs Productions) and Sudden Conflicts (Lillicat Publishers). State of Rage will be published by Rainy Day Reads Publishing, Crumbling Ramparts by Gnome on Pigs Productions. His short story collections include, A Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications) and. Now I Accuse and other stories (Winter Goose Publishing). His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines. He currently lives in New York City.